Longtime activist has compared gays to murderers, same-sex marriage to Holocaust
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The largest individual donor to the campaign to repeal Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance has compared gays to murderers and same-sex marriage to the Holocaust.
Longtime anti-gay activist Dr. Steve Hotze, who's kicked in up to $350,000 for the anti-HERO campaign, has also said same-sex marriage will lead to teachers encouraging kindergarteners to try anal sex. And he recently wielded a sword on stage at an anti-gay rally, while pledging to drive "homofascists" out of Houston and back to San Francisco.
However, despite his key financial role, the anti-HERO campaign has kept Hotze muzzled, silencing his rabidly anti-gay views while it maintains a laser focus on the more politically advantageous transgender bathroom myth.
"If they see he is connected to this, it may be that it turns off certain voters that may know his position on this is extreme," University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus told The Houston Chronicle.
According to the Chronicle, Hotze has loaned the anti-HERO campaign $50,000 and bought $96,225 in radio ads. He is also believed to have made another $200,350 in credit card expenditures to purchase radio ads.
Hotze's contributions suggest the anti-HERO campaign, despite a barrage of anti-trans ads, is as much about opposition to gay rights as anything.
Thirty years ago, Hotze sponsored the infamous "Straight Slate," a group of anti-gay Houston City Council candidates led by mayoral hopeful Louie Welch, who said over a hot mic before a televised debate that the best way to combat AIDS would be to "shoot the queers." And the Straight Slate has been reincarnated this year, in the form of several City Council candidates running based on opposition to HERO.
But with gay acceptance growing, the anti-HERO campaign has chosen instead to single out transgender people, masking Hotze-style homophobia behind the fear-mongering lie that sexual predators will use the ordinance to enter women's restrooms and prey on children.
"Most Houstonians, like most Americans, have gay and lesbian friends," Richard Carlbom, manager of the pro-HERO campaign, told the Chronicle. "Most people don't know a transgender person that they know of. The lack of familiarity means it can be easy for people to have questions or concerns or be made to be afraid, and that's exactly what the other side does."
HERO, which will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and 13 other characteristics in employment, housing and public accommodations. The HERO ballot fight, which caps an 18-month legal battle since the council first approved the ordinance in May 2014, has become a national and international story in the mainstream media, with both the Associated Press and The Guardian publishing stories over the weekend.
The AP noted that nondiscrimination laws have replaced marriage equality as the No. 1 priority for many LGBT groups. Texas is one of 28 states with no LGBT protections, and Houston is the largest city in the country without a nondiscrimination ordinance.
"The vote in Houston will carry national significance," Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow told the AP.
Watch the latest ad from the coalition supporting HERO, Houston Unites, below.
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